Call for protection of Whicher Scarp
Shadow environment minister and South West MLC Steve Thomas says the State Government’s plans to create 5 million hectares of national and marine parks should be expanded to incorporate the environmentally sensitive Whicher Scarp.
Plan For Our Parks was unveiled late last month and will increase WA’s conservation estate by 20 per cent by 2023-24.
The plan does not outline any commitments specific to the Capes, but Dr Thomas argued it should.
“The Whicher Scarp is a great example of a biodioversity hotspot ... and is something that really needs to be managed and protected,” he said.
The scarp extends from near Burekup to Dunsborough, meeting the Darling Scarp and the Leeuwin-Naturaliste Ridge.
In 2008, A Floristic Survey of the Whicher Scarp was undertaken by government departments, which recommended expanding and connecting the existing conservation and research areas and ramping up protection efforts.
South West conservationist Michael Tichbon, who received a Medal of the Order of Australia for his commitment to conservation and the environment earlier this year, echoed the Margaret River-based MP.
“There have been several attempts to cut sections out of this area for mining and a waste disposal site, but so far they have all been rejected,” he said. “In my opinion, it is fundamentally important to have this area sanctioned as a national park and provide permanent protection to this highly valuable area of land.”
Environment Minister Stephen Dawson said there was flexibility in the plan, which focused on election commitments and Government strategic priorities, bringing “all of this together at a State-wide scale to increase conservation for future generations”.
He pointed to other areas identified within departmental management plans for possible inclusion in the plan.
“As an example, the Forest Management Plan 2014-2023 proposed adding just over 5000ha to Whicher National Park,” he said.
“Such reserve proposals will also be progressed where possible.
“Importantly, Plan For Our Parks does not preclude other areas from being added to the conservation estate, such as an expansion of Whicher National Park in the future.”
Dr Thomas said he cautiously welcomed the overall plan, but would seek further information on how the extensions would be managed and resourced.
“If this aspirational plan is to be anything more than a thought bubble we will need to see a significant investment in this year’s State Budget, both for the planning process and ongoing management costs,” he said.
More pictures of the Whicher Scarp:
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